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Though it was usually associated with bad omens, strange tides and the playtime hours of wolf-man hybrids, she was glad for the full moon tonight, for it could provide no illumination that the flickering street lamps coud match.
The air was cold, crisp, foretelling of a frosty dawn this Fall season. She passed through alleyways slicked with grease and spewed with the rotting innards of gaping dumpsters. Urban flora -its skeleton, for the plants had been long dead- was glittered with the tiny knives of glass shards. They sparkled up at her from the floor, flashing their dangerous smiles like the fanged teeth of a predator.
'I will be okay' she told herself, lying. She shouldn't be here. She hadn't passed another living soul for nearly three hours.
A plume of grey breath billowed from her blue lips as she exhaled. She ignored the gripping pain of her calves, the lactic acid her enemy. Her only mantra was the faster she walked, the quicker she'd be home. She hoped.
Frozen, numb fingers were shoved into coat pockets; dark fabric, of course, but not black, for that shade created a silhouette against the shadows. She'd learnt many tricks over the years in becoming invisible.
Finally, the green glow of the city loomed ahead. Through the spiked metal fence looped with barbed wire, she watched the field hockey team at their practise, thinking it odd they'd be out so late.
A crashing sound broke her silence, a smash against the chain link fence as the ball made contact. Shuddering from its epicentre, a wave of blue current rippled from the collision point as what had once been a plastic sphere floated to the ground as ash.
She hadn't even flinched.
It had been a reminder of the city's safety -or restriction- to keep the monsters out. She knew different. It was to keep the people in; people like her, who, if caught, didn't want to think of the consequences to being discovered outside of the perimeter. In comparison, the hockey ball had it easy.
She pushed on, her muscles shouting protest but her mind screaming louder. She kept to the wall, fingers feeling the furry growths reaching out their tentacles from the bricks. Though grotesque, it calmed her. Life only grew near the city; she'd nearly done it. She was nearly home.
She turned a corner and every blood vessel in her body seemed to dilate. Rooted to the spot, she cursed, thinking she'd seen one of Them. Their pale bodies, their masked faces hiding snarling mouths. Their rubber-like claws, their inhuman, antiseptic stench.
She shrunk back, retracing a few slow metres. There was another way, though it'd take longer than anticipated. Reflexively, one hand curled around he makeshift weapon in her pocket.
The organic material of wood was strictly prohibited, given its potentially lethal consequences to the monsters. She had always detested the Authority's policy of submission - so long as the city provided three sacrifices every month, the monsters promised not to invade. But part of the deal included removing anything deemed harmful to them, rendering the people of the city truly powerless.
Though she'd been silent, she heard distant footsteps in an alley behind her. Hovering, she balanced like a feline between the low wall and a dumpster lid, listening for sound.
She pulled out the tiny weapon, clutching it so tightly that her bicep shook. The footsteps stopped. They waited. And then they entered the alley where she was.
If she'd time, she would have considered running, or clambering over the wall she'd half mounted. But time was not an advantage that was hers.
Two monsters were upon her, their choppy language floating in the air between them. Instructions. She realised they were instructions of what to do (how to to dispose) of her. Without thought, her arm recoiled then struck, the weapon making impact.
Falling backwards, one of the monsters clutched it's neck with the weapon crudely sticking out of its flesh.
"Ruptured carotid artery...shock." the other monster spoke into its telepathic node, a black button-like organ resting on its collarbone.
"She's more dangerous than anticipated." it said, watching her with wary eyes whilst trying to help its injured neighbour.
"We are not going to hurt you." the monster's cheek twitched, forcing a smile that looked to her more like a grimace. She knew it was lies, her own eyes frantically searching for an escape route but finding none. She'd been backed into the wall, cornered. They wanted to lull her into a false sense of security before the planned to attack.
"We need to get you back to the ward, Patient 735, we need to take you home."